Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Another Manic Monday!

So here is my average Monday routine...I don't ever call it Manic Monday because I want to have a good attitude about it. haha. It does tend to feel rather crazy though.
Morning Fit Camp
We started back to morning work-outs today. Bright and early, 8:30 am and we even arrived on time! That was close to a miracle already. After that it was back home for showers, breakfast, some schoolwork and getting things together to take in the car and for art class--OH but first a stop at the grocery store for a tub of yogurt and a bit of granola. That sounded more refreshing to the middles than eggs I guess.
Today was also a day the 5yo spends with the Mr. That involved packing his school bag, creating assignments, getting him up and dressed WITH teeth brushed for longer than 2 seconds.
Basic home chores

The middles and I also squeezed in a few extra chores. We left at noon to get big brother/oldest to work by 12:30pm, though the middles and youngest class does not start until 1:00pm. Hence, the school supplies for the car. I try to have them take advantage of 'extra time', otherwise, they tend to believe they don't have enough time to do schoolwork, reading especially.

While they are in art class, another mom and I use the time to walk the neighborhood or local beach while catching up and praying. Today we tracked ourselves at 4.8 miles burning 666 calories in just under 1.5 hours. 
Trip to the library

After art class we head on over to my second part time job--where we each get to play Cinderella and clean a local hair salon. That includes sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, restroom cleaning, taking out the trash and replacing bags, you get the idea.

I had an extra errand I had to squeeze in--a quick trip to the library to check out books about Martin Luther King Jr, so the middles could write a research paper or essay, as both of their history texts are covering the civil rights movement. At the same time, I stopped at the mall to drop oldest off at Target so he could get toiletries he needed.

Work at the tutoring center.

Rushing home to get ready for job #1--the tutoring center. It was a nice and warm day, I needed a shower from both the work outs. I had just under an hour now to get ready and at least start dinner for my dinner delivery plus prepare for my Monday tutoring client--an extremely busy preschooler. The middles helped finish dinner up. I drove instead of walked to work this evening since we had play rehearsal right after work.
Play rehearsal.
Dinner delivery cancelled due to my own lack of notice which worked out--I ate the delicious Teriyaki chicken salad when I arrived at rehearsal. My tutoring session is 5-6pm and rehearsal is 6-7:30 pm. Birdy met me at the tutoring center and I was out the door by 6:05, arriving at rehearsal about 6:10pm.

It went well. Birdy then heads across the parking lot to choir practice. It actually starts at 7:00 pm but due to play rehearsal, the children in both the play and choir, arrive late. My friend, the choir director is kind enough to bring Bird home afterward.

I am finally back home for good and I feel pretty Monday wasted. I walk in and my 5yo is "enthusiastic" to put it mildly, from not seeing me all day and wants all my undivided attention-he and the 14yo are both eating popsicles. My five year old puts on a pouty face, "I don't even like this popsicle though!"

 "Show me your new jump rope! Did you learn to jump?" I change the subject,  knowing the Mr purchased one because I asked, so I can record a new PE skill learned and to go along with a rhyming poem I found about jumping rope.

He hands me the popsicle. I put it away in the freezer and never remind him about it later. He demonstrates his new jumping rope skill. I read him the poem and we repeat it a few times. He insists I read all the poems...I skip a few pages with out him knowing. I talk him into taking a bath. My 14yyo swears he's hungry again and starving. 

I veg out a bit until the 5yo cries, "I can't wash my hair, it's too hard." I wash him up. "Ok, love you, go to bed now--your own bed." Later I find him asleep in usual.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Fish Canyon Falls, Duarte

FREE parking. NO restrooms at all. NOT stroller friendly. REAL risk of poison oak! Trail is VERY narrow and rocky at points. Lots of sun and uphill on the way in.

The good points: adventurous for sure. The falls are a triple decker! And another fall behind the base of the third, for a total of 4 falls at the destination. Easy on the come back, since it's mostly downhill. Interesting, it begins through a working and active rock quarry! You have to pass UNDER a conveyor belt transporting rocks from a mine. 

The falls are gorgeous! The 4th fall has a deep pool, we cliff dived (jumped) into it! Very exhilarating, cold water but fun. Water at the base of the initial falls are fun for playing, splashing and swimming. Rocks can be slippery. fyi. It is *shallow* at the base of the initial falls--great for walking in to get a picture BUT the middle of the *pool* is DEEP--walk around the edges to the fall if you want a picture opp but don't want to swim. The trail is rocky and slippery in parts-use caution. Could work with a little one in a back pack but in NO way with a stroller. It's just under 5 miles round trip so little walkers may get tired.

The narrowness of the trail in spots requires caution when passing other hikers. There are some actual rocky points where you must humble yourself and lean over and hold onto the rock walls to be safe in order to continue the trail.

Trail has informative kiosks giving the history of the trail through the years--was once a very prolific vacation spot with an actual community of residents IN the woods, cabins and everything...until a fire and flood wiped out most of them. You can still see cabin foundations and now over grown areas where cabins once were. Also flora and fauna that were discovered along this trail in the last 100 years and are only located here and a few other areas.

We saw little butterflies, wild flowers, wild herbs, small fish and a frog. Snakes are a possibility given the landscape and environment. TICKS are also a possibility. I suggest shoes or boots, tall socks or pants. I would have worn my hiking skirt due to the temps BUT wore yoga pants instead when I read risk of ticks and poison oak. No one encountered either but better safe than sorry. Other hikers were in shorts.

Bring a towel and/or wear swim suits under. The water is cool and refreshing and the warm temps make it worth it to take a dip. There is no trail beyond the falls--that is the destination and then you return back. The parking lot is a bit tricky, you must drive up into it, beyond Vulcan Mining Co. The trail is fenced off in the middle of the rock quarry. Stay on the path and you're fine.

Only a couple creek crossings, a bridge at the beginning and a few crazy spots of wooden "stairs". 

We rated this one as the most adventurous yet and all my kids LOVED it--especially the cliff diving. 

There IS also a REAL RISK of rock slides/falling rocks. As we were getting ready to leave BIG rocks the size of your hand and BIGGER, randomly started falling from the top of the canyon into the base of the falls. Thank God none of our kids were in the water anymore. There were a few other hikers in the pool and the rocks barely missed them! They got out quickly and we dashed out of there! That was a bit scary. It was like a meteor shower!!!

So, you know, I like to take pix of myself doing a yoga pose in nature. This time, I took off my shoes and socks and stood on a rock that was just an inch in the water, with the falls behind me. As I attempted to get into a pose I know well...graceful me slipped off the rock and into the water.

Apparently I had the same exact thoughts as everyone else, racing through my mind in slow motion...My feet will grasp the next rock and I'll stand up ankle deep, slipped there, ok I will be just knee deep, nope still stumbling--Whoa! There I go, all the way under the water, with my sun glasses on!

Yep, drenched. And NO ONE caught a picture of that!?! I wanted to laugh at myself so hard but at the same time I was shocked that I fell all the way in...the water was cold but not very because once I got out, drenched and dripping, I didn't feel cold at all. My friends and family just stared at me in shock. I was shocked too but laughing. 

The other thing that made this hike memorable was that my 5yo decided he was still too weak to hike. He seemed like he was in good spirits when he woke up but I missed the little clues he was unintentionally giving off as NOT being %100 recovered yet: whiny, emotional and extra ornery. The solution was for me to carry him piggy back style the entire way...just under 5 miles round trip. It was killer and intense. I am usually one of the front hikers but I was at the end, often alone on the trail. Not fun for this extrovert. I seriously had to pray at times as I don't like feeling lonely and this tends to make me feel weak physically. 

Reaching the falls was an awesome and energizing reprieve.  The hike back was easier too as it was mostly downhill but still challenging. We all moved much faster on the return trip. It proves how stress reducing nature and water really is. Everyone was so invigorated after our time at the water. The kids were daring and brave jumping off the cliffs to the murky water below. They felt a bit hesitant at first but eventually most of them took a few jumps. I felt a bit scared standing at the peak but everyone began cheering me on...even the other hikers that were not in our group: Go Mom! Go Mom! How fun and encouraging is that?

The longer I hesitated, the more I could feel fear taking it's grip on me, until finally, I shook it off and went for it. My only regret is that I closed my eyes. Haha. My friend got the jumps on video at least and they are thrilling and fun to watch. This was one of our best hikes so far. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Glimpse into My UNedited life!

Every month or so I create a fresh set-up for, what I have nick-named, my little spot.

It's one bit of wall space that has a shelf I can use as a faux mantle. I love looking at it.

I feel lovely when I see it decorated and displaying fresh works of art from my kids.

I've been a bit behind since Valentine's. There was a quick set-up for the Oscar's and since then it's been a bit...blank and empty, to tell the truth.

This set-up features a water-color bird of paradise by my 14yo on the left and a water color pencil rocket by my 5yo on the right.

To be even MORE honest...this is what that lovely little spot looks like with out the cropping and editing!

I present to you, my sewing desk!

THAT is my real life, in all it's post-barf-A-rama-glory. My life that ISN'T all together. ISN'T picture perfect. This is a glimpse of what it *really* looks like beyond the frame.

We can edit and crop our lives to look sweet and put together. We can post pix of smiling kids to our social media all day. No one has it all together, all the time, every day.

We have enough pressure on ourselves as mothers and females in general, to compare and live up to a picture perfect social media life. This is me.

The simple banner and springy arrangement was my victorious accomplishment for today...after a few sleepless, vomitrocious nights. It is enough.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As he snuggled up to me, all I felt was fear that he would vomit on me!

There was no celebrating for us. No sweet green table settings. And absolutely NO pinching. After a long couple nights of vomiting and fainting children, we were all wiped out. 

After art class and cleaning the salon on Monday, Kurtis vomited as soon as we arrived home, right outside the car on the sidewalk. I'm not sure how he survived art class. Liberty started feeling a bit funky too and by evening, took her own turn. She tried to stay in denial about it and that cost her the blanket and pillow she was lying on. 

Eggs of natural blue, pink, tan, and deep rust colors.

I felt exhausted and overwhelmed but you know--no rest for the weary--especially if that 'weary' is a momma! I headed to work and was greeted with this cute jar of the most beautiful fresh eggs I have ever seen from one of my students. His family has six chickens and they brought me a jar of naturally colorful eggs as a 'Thank You' for working with him. That brightened my day unbelievably. His chicken laid the blue eggs. Since these are fresh, they can remain unrefrigerated for up to 5 weeks unless I wash them. Amazing!

Getting my green on for work!

Since there was no St. Paddy's day indulgence happening at my house, I got a little green on for work at least. I painted my nails green, wore green earrings, sweater and rubber bands along with this green sparkly foam tiara, that's obviously seen better days.
Sleepless nights that include sick vomiting children are just the worst for me. Besides being exhausted, they take a major toll on me emotionally as they magnify the reality and feelings of being left alone in this parenting journey. The worry, the decision making and feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders alone...pushes me to my limits. Limits of faith and trust in God in the mess, in the loads of laundry, towels and underwear, like the vomit in the corners, splattered on every surface, is how far reaching is my need for Christ's grace in my own life.
Once again, He was there with me. He sustained me and led me into moments of beauty and gratefulness in an otherwise dehydrated barf-O-rama desert! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day Trip to Big Bear Lake

It was a gorgeous day so I thought,  'Why not?' 

Yes, there were chores to do, work to get caught up on...but why waste a day inside when we could be outdoors? 

On a whim I suggested it to oldest and invited his girlfriend to come along. It seemed like a great idea at 11:00 1:00 pm we were all in the car and on our way. Yah, two hours later.

The drive wasn't bad. We arrived and were happy to see a few spots of snow still on the ground. Who am I kidding? Kurtis, the 5yo, was ecstatic! One of his life dreams this year was to see snow and I was the one to take him.

It wasn't cold at all. It was wonderful weather. There were bits of snow right along the beach of the lake, in the shade of boulders of course. We didn't even need sweatshirts or jackets, it was comfortably warm.

It was a great day to be outdoors. The kids were able to experience making snow balls with their bare hands--yes, that was definitely cold. haha.

It was strange to have snow on the sand of the beach, at the same time. THIS is the type of snow day this Southern California girl could handle. 

Sam made the first snow ball! We ate the lunch we brought with us at Boulder Park, Big Bear Lake. It's a lovely setting and there were plenty of people enjoying the views and the park.

And this is what it looks like when I try to take a groupie with the timer! Seriously. There were other people waiting so I felt pressured. But hey! This IS the real us.

It was such a warm day, of course I was wearing flip flops. I am a Southern California girl, after all. This is a snow day I can handle!

After eating lunch, we spent the afternoon walking along the main strip of Big Bear Village. I bought the kiddos each an ice cream and we window shopped and enjoyed being away from home for a little while.

We pulled over to the side of the road on our way down the mountain so the kids and Kurtis specifically could play in the snow. A snow ball fight ensued. He loved it. The temperature was dropping quickly, we were on the shady side, so I waited in the van while they played. Haha.

It was still warmer at home, when we returned in the evening, then when we were leaving the mountain.

I'd like to go back soon, as Kurtis really wanted to see the museum and the zoo but they were closed by the time we found where they were located.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Fullerton Loop/Hitscher Trail

This is an interesting trail...kid AND stroller friendly. The trail is for pedestrians, bikes and horses. It's a suburban trail nestled in between residences on both sides but lots of trees & brush makes if feel like a secret, woodsy get-a-way in suburbia, at times. There are also a few horse properties so you might see (& hear) a few roosters, chickens, and horses along with gorgeous back yard gardens and pools. There is shade and sun...A LOT of sun. 

There is a sweet little 'Garden of Weeden' at a fork in the road, it has a drinking fountain for humans and dogs with a request to empty the dog bowl into the plants when finished. The trail IS dog friendly, on a leash. {From the parking lot, approaching this drinking fountain--we went LEFT which is the Hitscher Trail specifically, but the *loop* continues straight}

BEWARE of the mountain bikers. They come ZOOMING up with out warning like they OWN the place. Really. It can be scary for a parent w/ a younger one that is walking independently. A few bikes passed us & NOT ONE warned us they were approaching, nor did they slow down at all. 

Today's hiking crew.

Directions on YELP for "FULLERTON LOOP" have you parking in a city parking lot, via Downtown Fullerton. BUT you can also access the HITSCHER TRAIL area via Histscher trail road and shorten the walk. YELP reviewers clock the full trail anywhere from 7-11+ miles. We only did about 2 or so miles because we turned around & it was blazing hot!!!

Trail is wide & flat. IN places it forks to the other side into a narrow path but the same trail. There is also a sweet little bridge at one point. You must cross a FEW residential streets at the end of each trail segment, to continue the trail. 

Healthy mind, body and spirit.
This is a great walk for strollers, children, family and not a very far drive for locals.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Womens Day

My maternal grandmother was born into a time where she didn't even have the right to vote...and lived to see that change. 

Later, after her husband died, leaving her with two young daughters to raise, she became a single-working-mom, when it was a rare position to be in.

I come from a line of strong women, forced by circumstance to exhibit that strength in unexpected ways. I hope and pray to be that same example of reliable strength for my daughter and sons. I am grateful for and honor the women who came before me, so I could have the freedoms and rights I have today.

May we continue to fight the good fight until all women around the world experience these same freedoms, rights and protections.

Even in my postmodern life, I have been told there were things I could not do or be, simply because I am female. 

My paternal grandmother always told me, "You can be anything you want, if you know how to read."

May we also remember and fight for the rights of women everywhere who are not even allowed such a basic skill, as learning to read. 

The Big Dance: Masquerade Ball

Helping my favorite girl get all dolled up. 
Yes, actually, home schoolers do occasionally attend real dances, if they are so inclined. My oldest attended a dance when he was in high school with the same local tween/teen home-school social group. This wasn't the middles first dance. They attended a costume party dance last fall with this same group. They don't really know anyone {that's why they invite friends} but they enjoy having fun and dancing all together.  

The theme was: Masquerade Ball. Sounds fancy but we're talking teens here! They did wear masks and dressed up. I was a bit shocked when I finally saw Birdy all ready. I mean, she's 12!!! She wanted to wear her high top chucks but they are purple with unicorns, naturally they wouldn't match. I suggested a pair of low pumps of mine. Once I saw her, I sort of wished I would have left her alone with the tennis shoes so she'd still look 12. Haha.

Mothers and daughters.
My niece, their paternal cousin went with them again. She wore chucks. 

Ready to enter the dance hall!
Here they are, siblings, cousins and friends. They had fun. They are good kids. I feel proud that they are even willing to step out of a comfort zone, to attend an event where they wouldn't really know anyone, and be joiners. I know not everyone would agree with kids attending dances...unless it's cotillion. Oh well.
While they were dancing the night away, I took a mommy date with youngest, like last time. We went to Knott's, ate dinner and went on a few rides. He was SO excited to say we were going on a date. Right before we left for the evening, he proudly, told his little neighbor friend, "I have to go. I'm going on a date with my mom!"

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Hermit Falls

We headed back to Chantry Flats, like last week. This time we were took the Hermit Falls trails.

The Hiking Crew

Oh and guess what? I found out there are REAL bathrooms at the TOP level of parking. 2 levels require the Adventure Pass ($5) the uppermost parking level is privately owned property and you have to pay the owner individually. FYI.
Proverbs 3:17 NIV Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.

You still head down the asphalt path and around an early right bend, there is a small sign indicating the trail to Hermit Falls. It's shorter, sign says 1.2 miles BUT it felt longer. It's NOT flat. It's very narrow in places. I would recommend little ones in a back pack rather than a stroller. A stroller would be precarious.

This trail is in MORE sun than Sturtevant's. You will get HOT if the day is warm. It is up and down....mostly UP on the return! You will pass 2 man-made falls caused by retaining walls. These are still nice to look at. You will have to cross one, as the trail continues on the other side, past a few privately owned cabins with residents. 

The actual falls is nestled between large rocks/boulders. It can get deep enough to swim and for the adventurous, JUMP into. It would feel STRESSFUL if you had mobile little ones, as there is real risk of them running & falling in or off the edge, honestly. 

The trail ground itself isn't too rocky, only a bit in spots. The reviews on YELP claim lots of trash & graffiti at these falls. We DID see graffiti on the boulders, sadly, but only a few water bottles, at least on a Friday afternoon. I expect on the weekends, it would be packed or busier. 

You have NO idea how much I look forward to these hikes every Friday. I love nature and love being out in it. Out in the real woods and water and rocks. It makes me feel like I can breathe and rest after and before these long and busy weeks. I consider this a form of personal therapy, honestly.
I am so grateful for these opportunities to live fairly near to such lovely places. 

Healthy body, mind, spirit!
This is exactly how I feel!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

That one time...

Remember that one time my 14yo got so upset he stormed out of the house at 10pm with out telling anyone where he was going, and we called a search party of parents, youth pastor Sean, leader Alberto and big brother Ern while his other siblings shed crocodile tears? Oh wait-that was last night!

And shall forever be known as: "That one time Sam ran Target!!!"

Too soon?

Yes. That happened. He's seems to be the most melo-dramatic one of the four, so far. Sigh. This sweet, funny, emotional, fourteen year old man-child. Bird was so upset. It completely triggered a feeling of abandonment in her. "How could he just leave!?! How could he leave me? He's my best friend. I go to him for everything, the one I can talk to!"

Ern, oldest, had circled the neighborhood a few times and was unable to locate him. He suggested I let youth Pastor Sean know and he was kind enough to come over to help search. I felt obligated to call the Mr. I didn't want to, honestly, for fear it would in some way, be used against me. I put my personal hesitations aside and called him, out of respect as his father, at least. He joined the search to find him.

I noticed I had received a cryptic and dramatic text from the boy...indicating he was someplace with free wifi since he does not have a cell phone, only an Ipod. The Mr. found him at Target and promptly brought him home. The 14yo told me later, he was just wandering the toy aisles, looking at all the toys.

What a perfect picture for a 14 year old, caught within the frustration between boyhood and manhood. Wanting to be independent but required to submit to the daily rigors of schoolwork, chores and mom.

I, of course, felt like a complete failure. I'm doing this alone. Even after all this time, it shocks me sometimes, the responsibility of parenting alone. I don't know what the right thing to do or respond always is. Should I have not chased after him and simply expected he'd come home when he was hungry or cold or at least when Target closed? Did that just feed into his pity party? Should I have gone easier on him in the first place when I was reprimanding him before he stormed out? Is he just doing this to be dramatic and get attention or is he really feeling unloved, neglected and abandoned too? 

I don't know the answers to these questions but the questions themselves, weigh heavy on me, daily. It's ALL on me. I'm the one making the parenting decisions. I'm the one meting out consequences, ultimatums, making the decision to ground someone or not. I'm the one having to decide when to exert an extra measure of grace or push a little harder.

And sometimes, I don't want to do it anymore. I just want to have FUN! I want everyone to be happy and carefree. I want to ditch the rules and responsibilities too. I'm tired of having to choose if situations warrant me playing good cop or bad cop that day. I don't want to be any cop. I don't want to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I'm tired of worrying about feeling I'll get blamed for everything if I make a wrong decision.

I'm tired of trying to teach my sons how to be honorable and respectable men of integrity. I'm tired of trying to teach my daughter what to look for in a man, what a respectable, honorable man of integrity looks like...just by my words and warnings, with out a living example for myself, to SHOW them!!!

Don't get me wrong, we know men of integrity. But there is a huge difference between knowing someone and having a daily, living and breathing man in the home, teaching by example. I like to think I have it all together and my kids will turn out just fine--like the Mr. insists. Moments like last night though, make it glaringly obvious that everything is NOT ok. I do NOT have it all together. My children DO have wounded hearts and sometimes is shows.

The only saving grace I can give my trust in God. That He is caring for all of us, come what may. He hears my prayers and the cries of my heart. I know all hope is not lost and our life is pretty great, considering. But these moments...aaahhhh...they challenge hope for sure. So for now, I make light and poke fun at the ridiculousness of my 14yo running Target!